In 2004, I had a powerful vision, a dream to create a violin performance group for our senior students. This PG would rehearse weekly, require very high standards from our students, incorporate different genres of music in its repertoire, perform locally on a regular basis, and travel nationally or internationally on a frequent basis.
Since then, our students, parents, coaches and accompanist have traveled to Victoria B.C., China, New York City and most recently, Iceland. We are the only Canadian Suzuki School to do so, and it has brought many accolades and opportunities our way, garnering many local requests to perform repeatedly at several highly visible events in our hometown of Ottawa.
Our Iceland trip fortified my belief, that travel and performance opportunities for our students, is a remarkable prospect for musical advancement and social development for our young people. It fortifies the camaraderie between students in creating enduring friendships; these young people will be the future audiences of concert halls around the world, their love of music the common attribute shared by all!
These travel forays provide our students wonderful glimpses of other parts of the world; worlds often quite disparate from our own, but always intriguing and fascinating to all concerned. For many, this was the first occasion they have traveled outside of Canada.
Iceland is a wonderful country, the people resilient and stoic, despite the hardships they have had to endure throughout the centuries, a land full of “fickle volcanoes” that threaten to erupt almost daily. Yet in this land of mostly volcanic ash, the people have persevered and created an oasis of vegetation and architectural charm to their immediate environs. The student and parent blogs will reveal much about the Blue Lagoon, the fjords and the geysers. My favorite view, from the buses, were the magnificent Icelandic horses that frequently dotted the countryside with their lush manes and diverse colours.
The concerts were absolutely wonderful, with far more people than we expected in the audiences; word travels very quickly in Iceland! I was incredibly impressed with the professionalism and commitment of the students in concert. They always gave their very best, and this was in clear evidence at all times! I, at times, became concerned that trekking through all the rugged terrain during the scenic jaunts, would tire them for upcoming concerts, but I was proven wrong every time; each concert revealed 22 smiling faces, exquisite ensemble playing, wonderful solos and elegant bows. We were afforded many standing ovations by the audiences, a true indication of the musical impact we left with the Icelanders.
Also, under the initiative of Elaine Klimasko of the NACO, each of our students was given the opportunity of experiencing a master class with either Gudny Gudmunsdottir or Ari Vilhjalmsson (respectively, the recently retired concertmaster, and the newly appointed concertmaster, of the Icelandic Symphony). All of the students gained much from the advice and suggestions of these two kind professionals.
A wonderful, exhilarating musical adventure!
Credits for Iceland Trip:
- Maria Balakrishnan (tour organizer) Nan Laurenzio (second-in-command), Anka Pera, Scarlet Pollock
- Vicky Barham (my personal mentor who shared my vision every step of the road)
- Kit Barham (my indispensable co-coach, wheel-chair navigator and shopping companion)
- Judy Ginsburg (our indefatigable accompanist)
- Elaine Klimasko (master class teacher and coordinator with Icelandic teachers)
- 22 great students and their wonderful families ~ I Adore all of You!
- The people of Iceland ~ Thank You for your Incredible Hospitality!